Covid-19 Updates: May 2022

Leadership: Taking Responsibility – July 2017

Dear Peddie Church Family,

One of the unforgettable stories about leadership is told by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his book Lessons in Leadership. While he was a student at Cambridge University, he was faced with the challenges of secularization, and he wanted to find out how Jewish leaders in America were responding to these challenges. So he decided to spend a summer traveling around the US, meeting as many Jewish rabbis and leaders as possible.

There was one particular leader whom everyone urged to meet: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (a.k.a. the Rebbe). Though thousands of people were waiting to see the Rebbe, the young Sacks, by fortuitous circumstances, was granted a meeting with the Rebbe.

The Rebbe was quite unlike his expectations. “There was no charisma, no overflowing personality.” He patiently answered all the questions the young Sacks brought before him.

Then the Rebbe reversed the role. He started asking questions to the young Sacks. “How many students were there at Cambridge University? How many of them were engaged with Jewish life? How many came to the synagogue?” Sacks explained that only about ten percent of the Jewish students were engaged with Jewish life.

Surprisingly, the Rebbe challenged him what he was personally doing about it. Sacks began making an excuse as to why this had nothing to do with him, and sheepishly said, “in the situation in which I find myself ….” But the Rebbe would not allow him to finish the sentence. “You do not find yourself in a situation! You put yourself in one!”

The Rebbe was challenging him that he should not just complain about the situation, but he should be the one to put himself into the situation and do something about it.

How often do we complain that things are not as they should be? How often do we make suggestions to correct the wrong? But have we put ourselves into the situation? Are we doing anything about it? Have we made the sacrifice of taking responsibility for the situation?

How often do we say to ourselves, “It’s not my responsibility. I’m not supposed to be involved with this. It’s someone else’s job”? But who takes the responsibility? Who sacrifices their personal time?

Over the years, we have unintentionally created a church culture where the majority of the people are content in suggesting new ideas or making decisions for others to do the work.

As our Lord Jesus says, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Mat 9:37). The talkers of ideas are many, but the servants of Christ are few. If we are going to suggest news ideas or make decisions, we need to be the first ones to sacrifice our personal time to do the work.

In the service of Christ,

– Pastor James